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Odessa 40

Notes from the meeting of 16 April 2011

Positivity and Spiritual Aspects of Change

The discussion led to the following three points in conclusion:

  • It’s more important to have a positive idea of what you want than a negative view of what you have.
  • You don’t need to know and fully understand the causes of a political issue to effect positive political change.
  • Believing in the desired outcome can bring about the change necessary for its realisation.
Working Together and Communicating

The group discussed how different groups could work together and communicate with each other.

Working together

Different levels of activism:

  • National
  • Micro / Local
  • Media

Different groups and individuals will have most activity at different levels.

3 possible levels of co-operation:

  • Avoiding clashes of events through information sharing
  • Supporting each other’s agendas
  • Joint activities

Evolving co-operation will be a long-term process.

The first thing is to create a network. The fact that we are all working on our own projects but coming together as part of a wider citizenry, should be seen as core strength in what we are doing. The lack of a brand, an umbrella body, a hierarchy, or specific unity of purpose should be seen as a positive thing, especially with regard to communications any of us have with the media where the wider network comes up.

We should not duplicate efforts already up and running e.g. we should use http://www.contact.ie to contact TDs.

Communications between groups

Are people open to further meetings: Depends on agenda but broadly positive. No harm can come of communication

  • A communications network, space or medium is needed so different groups and people can communicate, collaborate, cross-pollinate, exchange ideas etc.
  • We need to prevent excessive communications and avoid information overload.
  • Groups should post about upcoming events and perhaps write short bulletins with their views on current events
  • We can work together on planning year ahead i.e. ensure events do not clash
  • Facebook suggested as an option due to its popularity and potential audience but there are other options too
  • Objections to Facebook:
    • Facebook is commercial and many people will not use it
    • Information on Facebook is short-lived as it gets pushed down the feed
    • (Facebook group set up here.)
  • http://www.itison.net/home.html could provide a possible alternative
  • BuddyPress http://buddypress.org/ can be used to post updates to other social networks
  • At an extreme level how could an event like the Claiming our Future RDS event be replicated online?
What are we learning about collaboration?

Learning about collaboration is really important – we see collaboration as a vital process for evolution. One of the greatest challenges facing us in the world today is to develop the competencies, tools and processes to resolve increasingly inter-connected and complex problems, to create a better and more just future for all. Collaborating is a core competency for this, and we need to explore it by doing and reflecting at the same time. To collaborate well we need to develop the capacity to work on three levels of awareness: I, us, and we.

Some of the territory covered in our conversation:

  • Collaborative projects evolve and unfold in unexpected ways. We’ve learned that it’s important to document and acknowledge the origins e.g. how Is Feidir Linn evolved to become Claiming Our Future. One of the challenges is to stay connected with our original passion and interest as we become ever more inclusive and collaborative.
  • Collaboration is when a group of people work together to achieve a shared intention or goal. It is deeper than co-operation as it requires breaking down barriers and sharing our deeply held assumptions and perspectives.
  • Experimenting through practice is key. There are different scales of collaboration – from small groups, to communities, to global projects. An example of a local project is the the Ecovillage in Cloughjordan.
  • Collaboration requires living the questions rather than determining final answers. From our experience it’s about personal, group and intergroup awareness of the dynamic tension between many elements, including: process and outcome, margin and centre, reflection and action, individual and collective.
  • Learning about collaboration is really important.  As a nation and as a group of change makers are we so focused on local issues (e.g. economic crisis) that we are missing much deeper issues? What if the pace of change forces us to collaborate?
  • The case for collaboration – global issues are so complex that collaborative approaches i.e. involving people working together across different disciplines, communities and experiences to creatively figure out new solutions.
  • Tools and processes of collaboration – Do we have the tools and processes to cope with the changes we need to make together in the world? Do we know what these tools and processes look like?
  • There are different strands of collaborative activity and they need to connect more – social media and technology like ‘basecamp’; group process methodologies like open space technology and physical spaces for collaborating like urban hubs.
  • Better support for collaboration requires – a shift in funders’ mindsets towards investment in inquiry & action research projects; case studies; communities of practice (e.g.Collaborative Leadership Development Initiative that emerged from the ireland:iceland project) and sharing resources (we shared Bill Torbert on action research, Ken Wilber on Integral theory Stafford Beer on Viable Systems Model)
Culture/Vacant Space Group

The group discussed the possible cultural or other uses for much of the vacant retail spaces around the country. The first suggestion highlighted how partnering events helped engage people from a diverse range of backgrounds to come together with a range of different ideas. We identified a number of cultural spaces already established (and the question of whether a formal network was needed?):

  • Block T and The Complex (Smithfield, Dublin)
  • Exchange (Dublin)
  • Occupy Space (Limerick)
  • Adapt (Galway)
  • Basement Project and Soma (Cork)

Prohibitive rates were identified as a key element as to why more spaces are not in existence. The question of ‘Should these spaces be free?’ was asked and the positive wide reaching effects of these types of spaces for the life of a community was identified as a possible reason as to why they should be free. However it was agreed that an incentive scheme would be a more acceptable programme for all parties involved in using these spaces. An incentive scheme that partnered the local authorities, the property owner and the tenant was envisaged. However, there was some difficulty in identifying who would be selected for such a scheme (i.e. What would the criteria for selection be? not for profit? cultural activities? etc.) It was pointed out that these spaces were not solely about the arts. They could also be significant contributors to local economies with the appropriate support.

This led onto the next issue of whether private or state/county council vacant space would be best suited to what we were suggesting. The idea of a Charter arose; in other words, looking at international best practice in this area e.g. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s use of vacant space, and having an agreed set of criteria for use in short and long term projects.

However this general approach may have problems as each site is specific as are the needs of those looking to occupy it.

It was suggested that we have a tendency to over-estimate the difficulties and barriers in using public space and that with specific plans for a specific site and a common interest for all parties use of space can be arranged (e.g. the organisers and the County Council could identify and promote a health issue around a cycling event or a family event like the Street Performance World Festival). Although there are many aspects to any event, identifying a common interest is necessary.

It was suggested that the main issue that stopped County Councils letting out property is insurance/liability.

Identifying many of the things that stopped people using these spaces and building a holistic argument as to why they should be used/reclaimed was also stated to be of importance.

How To Encourage Social/Community Participation
  • Get people discussing politics in everyday life. Organising everyday events like pizza parties or “street feasts”, just general ideas that people can replicate to get together
  • How to engage the quiet people? The ones who aren’t outspoken on these issues but may still be interested. Make use of the media for these events, draw attention, make them public and make it open, accessible and welcoming.
  • Be conscious of the use of certain images and language that exclude people such as leftist slogans politicized titles.
  • Make use of local newspapers, magazines, the internet, art and cultural events to bring issues from small community level to a larger mass level where it can make a greater impact.
  • Make use of photo opportunities or use tactics like “flash mob” to get in to newspapers
  • Keeping the people in mind when arranging events.
  • To educate people keep it simple such as David McWilliams “people’s economy” public seminars. To get people talking at events like the new “Rage against the regime” at The Grand Social/Pravda. Create a space for discussion that is a social setting, without an imposing power structure, that is open to all. Keep events fun using music, art and food to bring people together rather than rallying around issues just rally around getting people together.
  • Engaging schools and parents/children. Encouraging children to understand their role in the community and the country, giving them a voice and a place to be heard, showing them examples of democracy and exercises/events to help them better understand how government works.
  • Be aware that if groups stay small and elite they have no mandate from the masses to actually see change. There needs to be an openness to the whole and have more people aware and involved in order to compete with who currently runs/influences the country. Initiatives need mass support and awareness as well as acknowledgment from the politicians, otherwise it doesn’t progress.
  • We need to de-politicize these events and make them more public and accessible. We need initiatives that get people out to these events, then once they are there and involved, once there is a routine place to meet and people are comfortable THEN you can introduce issues for discussion. By focusing on something tangible and real – food, events, shared vegetable plot etc. Once that is there, then people can unite around it
  • Make use of the current community infrastructures rather re-inventing the wheel – spread the word about events through church networks, sports clubs, schools, Irish Countrywomans Association etc. These things already exist, we should help and support what is already out there, try to unite them rather than competing against each other
  • Create an umbrella website where all of the existing organisations can be gathered together in one place allowing people to see all that is happening and get involved rather than feeling torn between them.
Political Reform

Political Reform – power or empowerment?

  • Ideology – the public service is there to serve the public
  • Inclusion – giving our Diaspora the right to vote, which happens in almost every other E.U. country
  • Participation   participative measures….(didn’t get around to discussing them)
  • Consent of the people – the Constitution is the bedrock of our system (in theory or in practice?)
  • How is it done? Do elections give consent?
  • Motivation (didn’t get around to discussing this)
  • Financial Structures – the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Banks – no political say unless backed by banks.
  • Accountability – Dynasties, and funding of them; corporate donations; no recall system; promises broken between elections; no power for local authority reps.
  • Terminology (didn’t get around to discussing this)

Solutions (rapid fire!)

  • Can only be achieved outside the mechanism of the current system
  • Every citizen (including diaspora) has the right to vote
  • Economic reform must be achieved before we can have political reform
  • Proper education of the electorate (in schools)
  • State funding for candidates with a certain % of support
  • A Peoples Convention, whereby citizens choose their own candidates (rather than being chosen by party or list system)
  • A mechanism for referenda.

Petition wording (simple) e.g.

  • Ireland default now, as an example for Europe and the world!!
  • States/Countries cannot use public funding to pay for private debt


  • To canvas the views of the Irish and global public about the bank bailouts and financial curruption
  • To stimulate debate on the function and purpose of the bailout
    • To seek answers to the following questions
    • Is there an alternative source of funding to the IMF/ECB?
    • Can we run the country on less money than is currently being spent?
    • What happens if we default now?
    • Why is our state committing to taking on crippling debt
    • Does the system need radical overhall??

Next steps to be taken are:

  • Write and propose a petition to Avaaz for their potential approval to be sent out to their members globally.

A group of people stepped forward to look at the potential of a next meeting and to discuss and organize it.



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